The so-called “Birther” movement was used as a major distraction, during the 2008 Presidential campaign and throughout the early months of Barack Obama’s presidency. Over the past couple of years, the issue has been largely forgotten. It is curious, then, that Al Sharpton chose to mention the President’s birth certificate during a recent speech in Newark, NJ.
Whilst the speculation surrounding Obama’s birthplace has been widely attributed to some imagined lunatic right-wing fringe element, it was actually given birth to – pun intended – by supporters of Obama’s main Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
According to a report in British newspaper The Telegraph, the rumor began in earnest when an anonymous email was circulated, which stated “Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy,” it said. “She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth.” A copy of what has been claimed is Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate surfaced, which was instantly branded a “crude” forgery – ironically, by the same people who laugh at the idea that the “long form” US birth certificate eventually released by the White House may be forged. How is it known that this email was circulated by Clinton’s supporters or, possibly, by her campaign? Because, the Telegraph report points out, it just happened to emerge at the height of a bitter fight for the Democratic presidential nomination. It is no secret that there was no love lost between Obama and the Clintons. Former President Bill Clinton was known to have made some very harsh remarks about Obama. An interesting side note is that neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton were ever branded racist, as every right-wing Obama critic is.
Evidence that the President’s Hawaiian birth certificate is a forgery is sketchy. At the same time, evidence supporting its authenticity is also questionable.
On the one hand, it has been claimed that the document – which has only ever been made available in electronic format – has “layers”, which supposedly proves that it was created on a computer, as opposed to being a scan of an original paper document. The well-known myth-debunking website, snopes, lays out the case for the document being genuine, although that case is actually as flimsy as the case for it being fake; both sides in the argument cite “expert” testimony to support their claims. The problem with this, of course, is that even “experts” have personal political opinions, which will, inevitably, influence their assertions.
Testimony from Hawaiian officials, regarding the authenticity of the birth certificate can be immediately discounted; Quite apart from the Pacific islands state being deep blue territory is the fact that – were it ever proven that Obama was not, in fact, born there, the repercussions for Hawaii, for the hospital in which Obama was reportedly born and for the Democratic Party, as a whole, would be truly devastating. The vested interest of Hawaiian officials, therefore – both at the State government level and the hospital in question – is too enormous to regard any testimony from them as objective.
The birther movement, today, is spearheaded principally by two individuals: Property tycoon Donald Trump and Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Neither of these two individuals could possibly be viewed as objective; Trump, although held in disdain by most Conservatives, still aspires to be the Republican candidate for President. Arpaio, it is very well known, has an axe to grind against an administration that has continually attempted to intimidate him because of his anti-illegal immigrant stance. It is extremely difficult, therefore, to take any claim – from either man – about Obama’s place of birth seriously.
The best argument that the birthers have is the lengths to which Obama, his campaign team and, later, his administration appeared to go to stall the release of his birth certificate – including the initial claim by the Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital that they could not release the document. Critics of the birther theorists point to the announcement of Obama’s birth in Hawaiian newspapers as proof positive that the President was born there. Such announcements, however, can easily be placed in any newspaper without verification.
It seems utterly inconceivable that anyone would dare to run for the office of President of the United States, knowing that they are not eligible, by reason of birthplace. At the same time, the only hard evidence of Obama’s birth in Hawaii is an electronic document that took an extraordinarily long time to appear and that, whilst not a proven forgery, is also not proven as being genuine.
Back to the recent speech by known liar, tax-cheat and race-baiter Al Sharpton – the man who supported, and may even have created, Tawana Brawley’s false rape allegation, 25 years ago. Speaking Sunday at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, Sharpton rambled on about Jim Crowe and attempted, as usual, to assume the mantle of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. During the speech, Sharpton referred to Obama’s critics, who, he said, have proved that America has no yet become a “post-racial society” by calling for the President’s birth certificate. This was a curious reference which makes one wonder where Sharpton is going: In his endless and determined efforts to tear the country apart along racial lines, is he so entirely bereft of ideas that he chose to dig up this subject in order to, once again, make the ridiculous assertion that questioning the President’s place of birth is racist? Did the White House, perhaps, ask him to throw the comment out, in an attempt to resurrect the distraction of the birth certificate? With the Administration’s continued desperate efforts to bury numerous scandals, such as Fast and Furious, the Benghazi consulate attack and the IRS political targeting tactic, it would be no surprise if the White House decided to resurrect this issue; knowing that Obama is no danger, whatsoever, of being outed as foreign-born.
Another possible explanation for Sharpton attempting to breathe life into the distraction that keeps on distracting is the emerging strategy of attempting to link gun-ownership and racism: This idiotic connection could be conjured up in the following way: People who support gun-rights are predominantly right-wing; people who question Obama’s Hawaiian birth are predominantly right-wing; people who believe that George Zimmerman had the law on his side when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin are predominantly right-wing; ergo, gun-rights advocates are all racist, birther lunatics who should be disarmed for the good of society.
Sharpton’s curious mention of the Obama birth certificate issue was certainly no accident. The contention has always been that birthers are racists and, now, the case is being built that gun-owners are racists. The push to disarm law-abiding Americans is being deliberately fashioned into some bizarre new civil rights issue.
The last time a United States government passed laws to forcibly disarm a segment of the population, it was black Americans who were disarmed, in preparation for the introduction of slavery. This is a matter of historical fact, that all Americans – both black and white – would do well to remember.
An editorial by Graham J Noble